James was Jesus’ little brother and was now pastoring the huge church in Jerusalem. It was filled with religious people… men and women who knew a lot of facts about God and His Word. Problem was for many it remained locked in their head. They believed a lot of facts, but their walk in life did not match up with their talk regarding faith in and close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s a big issue and James jumps on it. He makes it clear that faith without works is useless for progress… to quote him directly he says: “Faith without works is dead.”
The line separating faith and works has been volleyed back and forth and debated for centuries. Our goal this week is to wrap our understanding around these verses. What is it that James is saying? What is the Big Idea that he wants us to understand as we grow up in our faith?
Paul stated that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. It is by grace we have been saved through faith. And this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But James now asks what good is it, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? He goes on to say that faith by itself apart from works is dead.
We know the Bible does not present conflicting views. How do we harmonize what could be viewed as a contradiction? What is the truth that puts these two together?
The answer lies in one word. James is challenging us to grow up. He starts out his statement by saying, “What good is it my brothers…
The key word is brothers.
While Paul was addressing people in need of salvation, he explains that God’s plan for us is justification by faith in the redemptive work of His Son. Our works will not justify us. If a man hopes he’ll get to heaven because the good in his life outweighs the bad… that is not the ticket. Relationship with God through faith is the ticket.
James now is talking to brothers and points out a red flag and a truth about our sanctification.. His audience is people who claim faith and in his exhortation he explains how faith is validated.
Paul and James were addressing two different groups.
In verses 14-26 James is talking to us… to believers, to men and women of faith. He observed how those attending the Jerusalem church lived and he saw the necessity to explain a BIG TRUTH. Through these 13 verses he points out 3 types of faith that exist:
- dead faith,
- demonic faith and
- dynamic faith.
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 3:28
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:17
For in Christ Jesus… the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words… John 14:21-24
in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13